Sourdough – the First Bites.

Well the experiment has come to an end. And quite a satisfying one too. Demi delivered on her promise and it was with relief, more than anything, that I laid the table for my family’s light tea this evening. The loaf was the centrepiece, the main event, and having cut a few slices I was sure she had baked well. Of course I knew nothing of the taste yet, but she certainly looked the part. The week has been a success. Yes, I would have ideally liked more of a rise out of her (I was expecting less of a flat loaf) and yes, I thought she’d be a bit darker on the crust, but overall it was a solid first effort from both of us. Things can only go up from here!

And my word, does the sourdough taste good. The rye really comes through, it has a darker taste than most breads. Tangy too. It’s such an old school loaf, it doesn’t sing with sweetness like most modern commercial breads. It is, to put it as simply as possible, exquisitely savoury. I can see future sourdough complementing hearty soups, making croutons – perhaps even being made into pizza. All are possible (and more) and I relish the many opportunities this experiment will provide looking towards the future. I will aim to record them as best I can as well. If you manage to create your own mother and sourdough (or have previously!), tips would be very much appreciated. Let’s make this a Sourdough Support network! Comment below to get involved.

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I guess now the experiment is done I have one final theme to cover – the theme of change. Demi’s many changes throughout the week have been extraordinary to witness. She went from flour, water and rhubarb to a sort of grey mush and from this grey mush to a loaf of bread. Mind-blowing. Change and transience are awesome concepts to consider (as in it’s truest sense, also as in just wow.). In any moment, as time continues to pass, no matter how much we feel the same we cannot be. I changed as that sentence was typed. You changed as you read it. Thousands of chemical interactions occurred, trains of thought altered, we aged. But did we grow? This idea of change can be intensely empowering but can also demolish you if you let it try.

If I’m to take this concept negatively I can almost infer that the idea that I’m changing all the time implies that I have no responsibility for who I was, who I am and who I will be. That I am in free-fall, all the time. If I’m programmed to be inconsistent, why put energy into an equilibrium that will never favour my development. With no responsibility, why should I even try to be consistent? To have integrity? To be true to a self that can’t even exist for a second? Isn’t that terrifying. It suggests that there’s no point, no meaning, that we will never leave square one.

But we know, from experience, that this just can’t be true. Because what I have neglected to include in my discussion of change is the concept of memory. The idea that we have the capacity to learn, to retain an awareness of who we were while considering also who we might become. If constant change is the river that runs through our lives, memory and integrity form its banks. These traits, like riverbanks, can be pliant and alter over time as the river runs on. Or they can be reinforced, provide the river with guidance. It doesn’t matter which ideal we follow – we can live as beings of constant internal revolution or choose a slower moving, casual metamorphosis. Either is ideal, the middle way is ideal – as long as they satisfy you as you go through your life and you feel you are doing your best.

But what happens, then, when you feel you are doing your best but that you cannot change for the better. Over the past few months as I’ve been preparing for and sitting my exams I can tell you that I have not been a pleasant person to live with. I let the stress get to me in a big way. I’m sure there’s a lot to do with my age and most certainly my hormones here but it was a nasty transition. I let the stresses and strains of my workload get to me, so much so that I couldn’t see a way out. I couldn’t see how best to change to overcome it. Usually I’m more on the side of slow change – putting the work into who I want to be. But on top of the angst caused by revision etc this just seemed to be making things worse. The exams were no longer external to me and were taking over my head.

To cut a long story short, all I can say is that I don’t want that to happen again. It’s not fair on me and it most certainly isn’t fair on those around me (just ask my roommate, poor thing). I’m happy (and relieved) to say I did pass those exams but I want to know that next year I’ll do things differently. I want to change. And if I’m more used to working on myself, constantly evaluating where I’m at and where I hope to be, maybe it’s that attitude that is holding me back. Maybe next year I need to let myself go a bit more – let the river guide me for a few months instead of trying to alter its flow. Lie back and float along with it. Because if I aim to have absolute consistency in a time when it feels like my world is falling down, that’s just another strain to hold onto. So I’m going to try to let it go. I’ll still be doing my best, but I want to do it differently. I want to seek the change, not resist it.

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